We all know leaders whether in our lives personally or people in the media we look up to, are inspired by and trust enough to follow their wisdom and apply their teachings to our lives. If we’re lucky, we’ve had close proximity to some great leaders in our lives and been able to glean from them and maybe even receive some mentoring. But most of us unfortunately don’t have that luxury and sometimes are left watching our favs on social media with our own gifts burning a fiery passion in our hearts wondering, how do I get there? How do I start? They make it look so easy. I’ll never be like them.
I am by far no expert and even am working on climbing the rungs myself, but feel that in the experience I have gained thus far, can share a few crucial tips and tons of biblical backing on how to become a truly great leader and how to ‘get started’ so to speak.
What does the bible say?
I think first and foremost, we have to look at what the bible says a leader is. To me, what it means to be a christian and a leader according to the bible are very similar. I believe that as believers, we are all called to be the walking, living, breathing church wherever we go and in whatever we do. Whether you feel a specific calling on your life or not to be a ‘leader’ is irrelevant to the fact that your life will still be a ministry and you may be the only Jesus some people meet. I personally believe that everyone is a leader in their own right because we were all made in the image of our Father so it’s built inside of who we are! Whether or not you’ve set out to be a leader, you are still a living example of Christ and exude that everywhere you go. So when we look at what it means to be a christian and a leader, they both come down to servitude. So naturally your life should be one of humility, value and character; but as a leader these things are of the upmost importance and are magnified and given away on a grander scale. I actually feel the bible talks about this more than anything so its very easy to find boat loads of scripture talking about how we are made to be, called to treat people and how to keep tabs on the condition of our hearts. So I can’t share all relevant scripture here, but I will share several key ones to show what I’m trying to say.
This is huge. This basically speaks to the motivation of your heart and your maturity level. This area needs to be highly developed in order to be an effective leader. If you want your ministry to be built on a real, healthy and strong foundation and stand the test of time; then it definitely starts here.
James 4:10 tells us to ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up’. Also Proverbs 29:23 says ‘Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor’. And lastly, Luke 14:11 says ‘For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’. This speaks to the fact that if our motivation is to exalt Him, He will in turn exalt us by blessing what were doing and giving us deeper revelation, grace and favor to walk in and make the fruit of our ministry and lives fresh and bountiful. Proverbs isn’t talking about having low self esteem and considering yourself a piece of dirt or unworthy. It’s about thinking of yourself less, not thinking less of yourself. Serving people out of a deep desire to share the gospel and the love of Jesus with someone instead of pointing to how gifted and great you are will in turn actually highlight the gift that God is manifesting in through you and show that you are full of honor for Him and his children. Great leaders don’t point to how great they are, they point to how great He is.
What do you stand for? What do you value? What are your morals? Ethics? Are you trustworthy? Are you transparent? A person of your word? Can people count on you? Are you prioritized and responsible? These are the important questions to ask yourself to check the strength and validity of your character.
Philippians 2:3 says ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves’. Titus 1:7-9 says ‘Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it’. Luke 16:10-13 says ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’. And lastly, Romans 12:10 says ‘Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves’.
Whew! I could keep going but I think you get the idea. Character is about being who you say you are. It’s about being the same person at home as you are on the pulpit. It’s about doing the right thing, valuing truth, being strong, disciplined and honest. Titus talks about these attributes that we should carry. It’s even more elaborated on in Galatians 5:22-23 talking about the fruits of the spirit. Really it comes down to our identity in Christ. Walking in the truth and freedom of that sets us up for success in every area of our life. Its always been one of my deep desires to keep my heart clean and my character strong and unshakable when it comes to these things. I can only pray that all upcoming leaders aspire to embody those same values.
And don’t get caught up on the part about drinking. You can drink. I drink. Should you get wasted and go out acting a fool? Obviously not. It speaks more to being responsible for your actions and not putting yourself in compromising situations. I truly believe that we need to work on building ourselves up in these areas before we can effectively serve others as a leader. You can’t give away what you don’t possess. You can’t (or shouldn’t) teach or preach on what you aren’t living out, what you haven’t walked through or experienced. Or were just telling people what to do, not showing them. We need to LEAD by example, that’s what a true leader is. You can preach an amazing sermon about anything, but if you yourself can’t even take your own advice and get your crap together, your words are empty. Anyone can tell someone how to fix their life or be a better person. But it takes a person of strong character and pure heart, to get down in the dirt next to them and say I’ve been there, now let me show you how I got out and am living in freedom. Romans speaks to this truth beautifully.
And Luke hits the nail on the head. If God blesses us with this gift, this platform, this grace and we squander it, we misuse it, we take advantage of it, how can we be trusted with more? Our ministries will fizzle out if were dishonest and mismanaging God’s kingdom. We’ve got enough examples in christian history where we’ve seen many mighty men and women of God waste their gifting and derail their call because they got too about themselves and lost sight of what God was saying or let the money and fame of it all go to their heads and become their driving force which eventually drove it all into the ground. Let that be a reminder of what NOT to do. If we start out the gate with the desire for deceitful gain, appearance or promises in what were doing, we certainly won’t be entrusted with more in the kingdom! In ministry, there are more people out for personal gain, celebrity status and money than I’d care to even know. It’s very disheartening and even angers me as I hope it does you. BUT this scripture isn’t about not getting paid to do ministry. It says in 1 Corinthians 9:11-14 that ‘If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel’. So obviously Luke is talking about how you can only serve God – (being about spreading the gospel, his love and truth) or you can serve money- (be in ministry for personal gain, be deceitful and untrustworthy.) 1 Corinthians shows us it’s ok to make your ministry your life’s work and reap some benefit from that but don’t miss where it says that they would even go without as to not hinder the gospel. That was the true heart there. they were willing to share and serve even if they got nothing because that was their true motivation and desire. But they knew that other servants got taken care of by what they did so they should be no different. You don’t need to worry about the money aspect of all of this. If you are taking the Lord’s leading and being obedient to Him, He will ALWAYS provide. It’s all comes down to the WHY.
We know for a fact that Jesus was never about the notoriety, the money or the ‘fans’. He did what was right, whether it was liked or not and stood His ground when tested every single time. John 14:12 says we will do great things as He and even greater. There’s no reason to believe that we can’t hold ourselves to the standard that Jesus walked out and maintain a clean heart and mind when it comes to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Don’t be a pharisee!
What experience do I need?
I have been on both sides of the experience, I have been mentored, worked for a ministry and I have also had lots of time being a one woman show just riding the waves of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Both hold immense value, but NOTHING can compare to what the Lord can impart to you when it’s just you and Him. There is no risk in trusting Him and He’ll never lead you astray. It’s great to be able to pick the brain of leaders you look up to and soak up all their wisdom and knowledge that they can pass down and it’s also great to serve with someone working towards their goals and spreading their ministry. I think no matter how far we get in our own journey, we should never stop doing these things. It’s just the way of the kingdom. Everyone is on a level playing field and everyone is family and we all have a common goal. It’s not a competition. We should not only be serving the people we’ve been entrusted to, but other leaders around us. It’s a team effort to bring heaven to earth and we can’t do it alone. Let’s link arms and show the utmost respect and honor to our fellow heirs to the throne.
Don’t ever get caught up in thinking you’ve arrived or learned all you can. Don’t get too set in your doctrine, beliefs or mindset; God actually might want you to learn something! We all have strengths and weaknesses, and can glean so much from each other if were open and humble. God speaks to each one of us differently and our gifts operate in different ways. Like the body we are, we cannot function without each part moving in unison. We each get something from the other, and could not do it as just one part, any of us, alone.
That said, if God has called you to be a leader in the body, the experience will come. Don’t get discouraged thinking that you can’t make an impact because you haven’t served under great leaders like some others or you haven’t had a lot of ‘seat time’ in being a leader. If we’re hearing from the Lord and have a passion in our hearts to exact change, then all we have to do is step out and say yes. He has put something inside of you that no other person on this planet can pull off. The exact way you will partner with the Holy Spirit is one of a kind. You will affect people in a way that has not been done yet, so don’t ever think your gifting isn’t needed or that you need to change it to be more like someone else. we already have a Bill Johnson. We need YOU.
God has spoken this to me very deeply over the last 2 years. It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to fit in and look or act the part and follow what seems like a successful model, but the greatest success you’ll ever see is in being fully yourself. I didn’t fully come alive in my calling and really start gaining traction until I embraced my uniqueness and ran with it. No matter if you imitate someone or be genuinely you, someone will always be out there that doesn’t like it or is pissed off or offended. So you might as well be you! God truly knew what he was doing when he carefully and thoughtfully pieced you together, inside and out. Don’t squander what He’s put inside of you by being a copy of someone else!
An important part of understanding kingdom leadership is to know the 5 fold. Ephesians 4:11-16 says ‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’
So this means God has placed the calling inside of not all, but many Christians to carry a 5 fold gifting. these leaders are essentially the ones to equip the rest of the body in knowledge, truth, love and ability! NOT meant to be above anyone waving their titles in superiority, but a help, a servant, an example to the body. Every christian can teach, evangelize, prophecy and more but not every christian carries the ability to give it away. So 5 fold are meant to build up the skills that lay dormant inside of you so that you may use them effectively and bring more people into God’s family! It’s important to learn more about the 5 fold, what each gifting looks like and talk with God about what He’s called you to do and if it is indeed a 5 fold calling. If you dig deep and get honest with God, you’ll find what that is, and you may already know! That’s why I said earlier I feel each of us has a call and is a leader in our own right because we all can manifest God’s power! The only difference with the 5 fold is they equip others to do so and do it well!
I said yes, what now?
If God has spoken to your heart and birthed a deep passion for something in you, then that’s amazing! I know it can be scary and might even be totally new! (I know that noob feeling!) But don’t let that intimidate you. You were made for this! When we say yes and partner with what God wants to do in our lives, amazing things can happen! Us saying yes is huge because it gives God the green light to start aligning things for you to take the steps necessary in your journey. The way that looks and the time it takes is completely unique to you. Don’t get caught up in what or how someone else is doing their thing, listen to God! It’s important that we take away wisdom from watching others around us function in their gifting, but that we don’t go so far as to compare ourselves and begin to doubt our destiny.
Your hunger for God’s truth has to be stronger than your desire to be liked. Stepping out can be scary for lots of reasons but one many people get caught up on is what people will think. You may be totally alone in your feelings for what you’re meant to do, have little support or maybe you’ve had lots of people calling out your gift and maybe have even received prophetic words about it. People might even flat out tell you that you can’t do anything or more specifically, what you’re setting out to do. That is the enemy feeding you lies! He wants to discourage you so you don’t do the amazing things he knows you’re meant to! Don’t let lies stop you! Speak the truth over yourself and be reminded of who you truly are and what you’re capable of in Christ. If God is speaking to you loud and clear, run with it. Screw what anyone else thinks.
Whichever experience is yours, step out anyway. It’s helpful to at least have a few trusted friends , family or other leaders you can trust with these buddings in your heart that know you and get what your about. ( your tribe <3) who can be your wise counsel. You don’t need the masses cheering you on, it’s only God’s support that really matters! Think back to Jesus. he was followed and loved, yes. But many also hated him and ultimately had him killed. He was exactly who He said He was, had pure motives and signs and wonders even followed his ministry yet there were still haters. No matter what you set out to do, your motivation cant be to be liked. The people who don’t like it or are offended weren’t the people you were meant to impact. Keeping your sights set on glorifying God will strengthen your resolve and help you not build a wall, but build up your identity in Him so that you’re able to proudly and unapologetically do you and what you’re meant to do. It will affect the right people and reach them. Just trust the process and have faith!
Learning is key. No matter what you feel led to do, you should always be pursuing knowledge and growth as a leader. You can best serve and help others when you are building your life and ministry on solid ground. This refers to who you are as a person and what you’re sharing. You need to know your stuff and be about your stuff. Enrolling in a bible school or trade school is helpful in honing your gifts and strengthening your ability to use them effectively! Even the most captivating and well known leaders out there had to start somewhere! Just because you’re carrying a gifting or passion, doesn’t mean it wont need improvement and practice. You have to pursue it and do the work.
Saying yes to God doesn’t mean all the talent and means to do it will just fall in your lap. You have a grace to do what you’re meant to do and supernatural provision, but you need to tap into it first. Learning can also mean reading, watching teachings, studying the bible; the resources are endless. Take advantage of them! Gaining knowledge will never be a fruitless en devour and you will want to continuously grow and gain insight from the Lord and other resources throughout your whole life or you and your ministry will grow stagnant and plateau. To be great you have to learn how to be! You’ll have to step out and be willing to not be great or even fail at first to know where you’re at and work up. You can only strengthen your weaknesses if you know what they are and work them. If you wait til you’re ready, you never will be!
Lastly, don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 says ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’. Figuring out what you’re meant to do and pursuing it isn’t going to look like easy street. Being obedient to God isn’t always easy either. But you’ll find as you do, that He will provide the whole way. You’ll find as you dig into Him, growing in your relationship and search for wisdom, revelation and guidance that He will equip you and make a way when there seems no way. He will open doors, grant favor and line up opportunities that you could only dream of doing on your own. But God! By partnering with Him we are taking in the journey and not looking for a destination. It’s all a journey. Forever learning, growing and impacting people for Him and with Him. If you do all you can, He will do what only He can do.
To me, saying yes to God looks a lot like the story in Matthew 14:22-33. He’s approaching us, as always in His supernatural nature, asking us to step out of the boat. Step out of what’s comfortable. What’s familiar. What’s easy. What’s known. And take His hand. Step out of the good and be willing to go for the exceedingly great. Step out of what you can do in your own might and partner with His never ending provision, power and love. And when we say yes, and take His hand, we will see that if we’re fearless; we too can walk on water. We too can do the impossible if we just trust and believe. Operating out of the place of deep devotion, relationship, trust and love with Him will never feel like work. It will feel like pure passionate bliss. The King of Kings wants to walk side by side with US. And sees greatness in US. And encourage US in our talents. What an amazingly loving Father. I am absolutely blown away by His goodness. Keep hustling, keep improving yourself and being true to who God made you to be and you will soon see the fruit of your passions explode and it will be ever so sweet.
I pray that in growing in your relationship with God, you settle into who you truly are and gain all the confidence in the world to SAY YES and go out boldly and change the world!
lots of love and encouragement,